The Dodgers history goes back a long time. From the old days of the Brooklyn Robins to their move out to the west coast, the franchise has seen its share of great players throughout the years. Every era had star players who have gone down in history as all-time greats on the team.
But what if you had to pick one player from each decade? Who would be the Dodger you associate with that time frame?
The following article is the first of two parts. This one looks at each decade, starting with the 1910s and going through the 1950s. For each 10-year span we list the “Dodger of the Decade,” which is the player that had the biggest impact on the team during that time. Part two will cover the 1960s to 2010s.
1910s: Zack Wheat
Lifetime Stats: .317/.367/.450
Most hits in franchise history: 2,804
Inducted into the Baseball HOF in 1959
If you’re a Dodgers history buff, you’ve probably heard of Zack Wheat. He played 18 of his 19 years with the Dodgers, spanning from 1909 to 1926. He still holds many team records including most hits, doubles, triples, and games played in franchise history. Wheat was a great hitter and won the batting title back in 1918. You remember that year, right?
Honorary Mentions: Jake Daubert
1920s: Dazzy Vance
Lifetime Stats: 197-140 record, 3.24 ERA, 2,045 K’s
Inducted into the Baseball HOF in 1955
Another all-time great in Dodgers history, Dazzy Vance was the ace of the rotation back in the 1920s. He played for Brooklyn from 1922 to 1932 and had all his prime years with the Dodgers. \
His 190 Wins with the team is 3rd all-time and his 1,918 strikeouts are 5th most. Vance led the league in strikeouts for seven straight years in the 1920s (22’-28’) and he won the MVP in 1924 when he went 28-6 with a 2.16 ERA.
Honorary Mentions: Zack Wheat, Babe Herman
1930s: Van Mungo
Lifetime Stats: 120-115 record, 3.47 ERA, 1,242 K’s
4-time All-Star (1934-1937)
Van Mungo was a fixture in the Dodgers’ rotation back in the 1930s, and all but 19 of his career 120 Wins came in that decade. He played in Brooklyn from 1931 to 1941 and was a four-time All-Star during that span (1934-1937.) He also led the league in K/9 for three straight years.
In a decade that might not get talked about as much as some of the other ones in team history, Mungo definitely stands out as the Dodger player of the 1930s.
Honorary Mentions: Danny Taylor, Cookie Lavagetto
1940s: Pee Wee Reese
Lifetime Stats: .269/.366/.377, 232 SB
Most Runs in franchise history: 1,338
Inducted into the Baseball HOF in 1984
For the 1940s, in terms of stats alone, you could make a strong case for Dixie Walker who was a four-time All-Star of that decade. However, Pee Wee Reese is an all-time Dodgers legend.
He played his entire career with the team, from 1940-1958. He’s the franchise leader in Runs scored (1,338,) total overall bWAR (66.3) and is 2nd only to Zach Wheat in hits. Reese made 10 All-Star teams and finished in the top-10 MVP voting eight different times. Like many in that era, he missed a few seasons in the 1940s due to military service in World War II but he still managed to put up great numbers throughout the decade. He was elected into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1984.
Honorary Mentions: Dixie Walker, Pete Reiser
1950s: Duke Snider
Lifetime Stats: .295/.380/.540, 407 HR
Most Homeruns (389) and RBI (1,271) in franchise history
Inducted into the Baseball HOF in 1980
The 1950s may have had more great Dodgers players than any other decade, but it was hard to go against Duke Snider. The franchise leader in both home runs and RBI, Snider is still considered by many to be the best position player in Dodgers history. His 68.6 offensive bWAR is the most in team history. A member of the Dodgers for 16 years, he played in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles.
Of note, there could really be three or four different players to choose as the greatest of this decade. Jackie Robinson is obviously an all-time great and in terms of historical significance, he’s not only the most significant player of the Dodgers but probably for all of baseball. However, Snider still gets the edge when strictly talking about the 1950’s decade, mostly because he played the entire 10 seasons. Robinson’s first three years came in the decade before (1947-1949) and although the remaining seven years in the ’50’s were great, they don’t quite compare to Duke’s numbers. Same goes for all-time greats like Gil Hodges and Roy Campanella, who also had terrific careers and great numbers in the ’50’s. Campanella won three MVPs, but a tragic accident cut his career short after the 1957 season.
Honorary Mentions: Jackie Robinson Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo
Make sure you check out Part two of this series, which will cover the decades from the 1960’s to 2010’s.